Shadows in General

(illus. by Taz Jurz)

Can you look outside your window
without your shadow getting in the way?

Building a Mystery
- Sarah McLachlan

Mortals have the possibility of gaining a Derangement if they lose control of their minds, or fail a Morality roll. Wraiths, on the other hand, start the game with a Derangement of sorts. And this Derangement is the Shadow.

The Shadow is every Wraith's worst nightmare. It is a sentient outgrowth of the worst, most self-destructive parts of the Wraith's persona. It starts out annoying, and gets steadily worse as time goes along: becoming more powerful, more tempting and more dangerous with each passing year.

The Shadow is a perverse extension of the Wraith's own Morality: a result of the shame, horror and/or self-disgust the Wraith feels when she goes too far in following her inner drives. The person who seeks Justice may lose control and become The Vigilante, willing to smash all sense of law and order to get revenge. Meanwhile, the Lustful person may fly into a rage when a potential partner says "no," and become The Violator.

At early stages the Shadow is just a tendency towards certain kinds of behavior, but as the Wraith's Shadow grows, it becomes more and more dominant. It starts talking to her, making improper or high-minded suggestions, and altering her perceptions of reality in such a way as to get the Wraith to do what it wants. And the more the Wraith complies, the more powerful the Shadow gets

After enough wear and tear has taken place, the Wraith lives in a mentally confused state, and is known as one of The Lost. Such a Wraith is beset by constant illusions, impulses and suggestions, and these persuade her to act out her Shadow's desires. Such Wraiths tend to live in a world of their own, unable to tell Shadow-spawned fantasy from reality.

With some outside help, or a courageous display of self-knowledge and personal resolve, a Lost Wraith might be able to come back. But there is a point where she will be completely lost to goodness and sanity, and will become an insane, amoral and evil thing that lives only to indulge its outrageous drives.

Wraiths call such monsters by the name of The Damned, and rightly fear - and destroy - them.

The Book of Truth and Joy

Untold ages ago, the Pardoners discovered an incredible thing: a collection of scrolls, written by one of the more literate of the Damned, that described with horrible detail the mindset of Shadows. The creature had called its masterwork The Book of Truth and Joy, and while the Pardoners found much truth inside its demented stanzas, they found little joy to accompany it.

While the book was written from the viewpoint of one particular Shadow Type - and debate still rages as to which one it was - its worth in understanding the "mind" of Shadows is incalculable. Everything a Pardoner needs to know about what a Shadow is, what it wants, and intriguing glimpses as to what it can and might do, are there. And Pardoners have used its teachings to anticipate or second-guess Shadows ever since.

Copies of this book are available to Pardoners, but there are few copies, and the waiting list to view it is quite extensive. It is a lucky Necropolis that has its own copy - all others must petition that city's Pardoners for permission, and they are most often turned down for purposes of security.

There is only one, complete and unexpurgated copy, other than the original scrolls. Some of the sections of the book were so spiritually destructive that any who read them went Lost, and then Damned, in short order.

After losing all the original translators, and a number of nigh-experienced veterans, to the pages of the book, the Pardoners who oversaw its transcription locked that copy away, and ordered new, less-explicit versions to be made, instead.

That single, unexpurgated copy of the book is somewhere in Italy, under constant watch. The guards are never told exactly what they're guarding for fear of their being tempted to read the proscribed sections.